The Insider

Feb 11, 2002  •  Post A Comment

NASA being grounded by FCC
Key sources last week were all but pronouncing dead a request by affiliates of the Big 3 networks for a Federal Communications Commission investigation into alleged network abuses of their local partners. The chief reason: Agency Chairman Michael Powell supposedly believes the request is too regulatory in nature. At deadline, Mr. Powell had not returned telephone calls. But an FCC spokesman insisted that the Network Affiliated Stations Alliance petition, which has been pending since last spring, still is being scrutinized by agency staffers. Said one network source, however, “It’s always been seen as something of a nuisance filing.” Meanwhile, Ray Deaver, chairman of the CBS affiliates advisory board, said the petition had helped CBS affiliates work out some differences with their network. “Through it, we have been able to resolve the few issues we had,” Mr. Deaver said, declining to get specific. “There are a few out there that we’re still discussing, but nothing huge.”
ABC News still Carole-ing
The Insider has learned that the intermittently testy relationship between ABC News and weekend anchor and senior correspondent Carole Simpson has been extended. The Washington-based Ms. Simpson has signed a new multiyear contract that will keep her anchoring Sunday editions of “World News Tonight” and allow her to report regularly for weekend newscasts on societal issues in which she has long been interested.
Over the years, Ms. Simpson has become nearly as well known for going off the reservation to take her network and others to task on diversity and other issues as she has for her nine years as Sunday anchor and for her precisely built coif. Last year, things got particularly tense-she was benched for two weeks with pay after she blurted out inaccurate information during the network’s investigation of how a news producer’s baby contracted anthrax.
But The Insider always says that all’s well that ends, well, with family ties-and contracts-intact.
Court’s crowded reception room
Lisa Bloom, who joined Court TV as James Curtis’ co-anchor on “Closing Arguments” late last summer, was the honoree last week at a welcome-aboard party that was among the many that were delayed (if not canceled outright) after Sept. 11. Ms. Bloom has followed mom Gloria Allred into both law and the media, and movers and shakers from both worlds had RSVP’d in such numbers that Manhattan’s Nirvana would feel even more intime than usual. Among those who had said they would be there were actor Ron Silver, crime-chronicler Dominick Dunne, police chief turned expert-in-demand William Bratton, Fox anchor turned CNN anchor Paula Zahn and Fox News boss turned Zahn-agent litigant Roger Ailes.
Mel’s bubbly, Morley’s gotta habit
Scenes from the Museum of Television & Radio’s gala, a New York tradition at which the classic clips always outshine the program: Viacom Chief Operating Officer Mel Karmazin, sometimes with, sometimes without wife Terry at his side, exuberantly worked the cocktail party and the ballroom. “What’s your excuse?” he shouted to late arrival Dan Rather. Media mogul turned Mayor Michael Bloomberg did what many of the evening’s presenters did not: He spoke eloquently for a few minutes without notes. And “60 Minutes” man Morley Safer lit up an imported cigarette during dessert and not one of the many disapproving looks was accompanied by a New York-style shout that he try the patch or the sidewalk.
Arthel’s heeling at CNN
Arthel Neville is revved about crossing back to the newsier side as the permanent host of CNN’s “TalkBack Live,” after a career that started with reporting gigs in Texas and New Orleans and then gravitated to “Extra,” E! and Fox News Channel, where she was co-host of “Celebrity Spotlight” until a year ago.
Late on the day that CNN announced her hiring, Ms. Neville called from CNN headquarters in Atlanta and declared herself so jet-lagged and exhausted after a whirlwind courtship by the news network and by the prospect of moving from Los Angeles to Atlanta that “I am lying down with my shoes off.” Since Ms. Neville’s new gig requires her to be on her feet-as well as her toes-for an hour of live juggling of hot topics, far-flung guests and questions from a studio audience, The Insider wondered what kind of shoes she had doffed and is partial to. “21/2- to 3-inch heels,” she said. “I think I’ll wear flat shoes all day and put on my cute shoes for the show.”
A rings-side seat at last for Falco
Randy Falco, good-natured president of the NBC Television Network and chief operating officer of its Olympics operations, just might finally get to take in an Olympic event as a spectator during the Winter Games currently playing in Salt Lake City. “In the 12 years I have been doing this, I have never seen an Olympic event. I’m always running between the IOC and the control room,” he said. This time around, he’s determined to take his wife and daughter to one of the figure skating events.